Parenting During a Pandemic
Preparing for unexpected school closures and disrupted childcare while staying sane
As we approach the almost 2-year mark of the global pandemic, working parents are still faced with unexpected challenges due to rapid changes in childcare. Whether school or daycare is closed or your current caregiver is ill, below are some tips to help prepare in advance:
1. Research your employer’s policy on unexpected leave, emergency time off, backup care resources or sick leave now. Instead of frantically reviewing HR policies when the time comes, understand you and your partner’s options in a calm state of mind. Additionally, some employers tend to update HR policies at the start of the calendar year, so there may be some new options in 2022 for you to check out.
2. Discuss options and possible solutions with your manager in advance. Come to the table with some ideas on how to make this time more manageable, while still supporting your employer’s goals and objectives. Do not be afraid to ask for help either. This is a professional way to approach a personal situation.
3. Outsource and simplify wherever possible. Identify the items (cleaning, meal prep, laundry, and grocery shopping, etc.) that take up time and energy and instead outsource. Hire a cleaning person or laundry service or a sleep consultant to help tackle bedtime challenges. Is going to an activity a battle every week with your child or are there a few items on your to do list that can be deferred? Perhaps it’s time to take a break and revisit in a few months.
4. Save special toys, activities and movies for this time. Given the recent holidays, there may be a surplus of toys, games and activities sitting around. Can you discretely put them out of sight and reintroduce them to your kids when you need some uninterrupted work time? Another idea would be to pay the extra money for a movie that’s still in theaters (e.g. Sing 2) at home or find a movie to watch from your childhood.
5. Save some gas in your tank. While this might sound like a tip for those planning a car trip amidst winter temperatures and snow, it’s also one to keep in mind for yourself. We are still in a global pandemic and caring for your children starts with taking care of yourself first.
Amy Smith is a busy mother of two young children and the Global Procurement Director at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, where she is in charge of leading strategic negotiations for marketing teams. Amy teaches the Back to Work After Baby class at Main Line Family Education, a course that helps new mothers plan and strategize their return to work following maternity leave.